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NASA sees Extra-Tropical Storm Pam moving away from New Zealand

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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IMAGE: On March 15 at 02:05 UTC, the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured this visible image of Tropical Cyclone Pam off northern New Zealand as it was becoming an... view more

Credit: Image Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

Pam, a once powerful Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale is now an extra-tropical storm moving past northern New Zealand. NASA's Aqua satellite and the ISS-RapidScat instrument provided a look at the storm's structure and wind speed.

On March 15 at 02:05 UTC, the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Cyclone Pam off northern New Zealand as it was becoming an extra-tropical cyclone. The image showed strong thunderstorms around the center of circulation and east of the center. Cloud in Pam's southern quadrant had reached northern New Zealand at that time.

The RapidScat instrument aboard the International Space Station (ISS) measures surface winds. When the ISS passed over Pam on March 15 RapidScat gathered data on surface winds that showed the strongest winds stretched from the northeast to the south of the center near 35 m/s (78 mph/126 kph). On March 16, after Pam made its transition to an extra-tropical storm, RapidScat gathered surface wind data on the storm from 2:20 to 3:45 UTC (March 15 from 8:20 to 11:45 p.m. EDT). RapidScat measured maximum sustained winds near 25 meters per second /56 mph/90 kph, west and south of the center.

The New Zealand Meteorological Service (NZMS) issued a bulletin on Extra-tropical storm Pam on March 16 at 25:35 local time. The bulletin included a Severe Weather Watch for Wellington that is valid through 8:35 p.m. local time on Tuesday, March 17.

The NZMS noted that Cyclone Pam was moving to the southeast but southerly gales for the east and south of the north island will be slow to subside.

Cyclone Pam was about 400 km east of Gisborne and moving to the southeast away from New Zealand and towards the Chatham Islands. NZMS noted "The heavy rain, severe southerly gales and extremely large seas that affected eastern parts of the North Island will continue to ease Monday night and Tuesday morning. However, a warning remains in force for heavy rain about the ranges of Hawkes Bay until early Tuesday morning. Also, in exposed parts of the east and south of the North Island, south to southwest gales continue Monday night and much of Tuesday."

The watch in place calls for the possibility of gale-force southerly winds in Wellington and dangerous coastal conditions through Tuesday. Heavy ocean swells and very large waves are forecast to continue to affecting the coast from East Cape to Cape Palliser Monday night (local time), and should gradually ease during Tuesday, according to NZMS. For updated forecasts from NZMS, visit: http://www.metservice.com/national/home.

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